Faeez Jacobs has come a long way. If anything, his journey is a testimony that willpower and dedication will take you anywhere you want to go.
And his co-ordinates have landed him slap-bang on the location he went in search of years ago.
From overcoming family issues, bullying, and various dark elements in Mitchells Plain, to fighting for royalty in the Extreme Fighting Organisation.
Earning a gold bantamweight belt won’t just solidify his superiority as a fighter, but it will shine a light for many kids who are experiencing what he had faced growing up.
“Becoming the first MMA world champion from Mitchells Plain means the world to me,” says Jacobs (6-2) who will take on Nkazimulo “Zuluboy” Zulu (11-3) at EFC81 tonight for the EFC Bantamweight Interim title at Time Square, Menlyn, Pretoria.
“Growing up, I had a group of about 12 (or 13) friends, we were so close. We spent every day together. Some of us went through rough patches, I saw what the Mitchells Plain life can do to some people. I saw some went to drugs, some went to gangsterism, and some of them are involved in the church right now.
“And I just want to be a part of the positive change. I want to be a role model to my community, I want the youngsters to know that there is not only the rough or negative part, but that your dreams can come true.”
Jacobs, pictured, lives by the words “Dream, Believe, Achieve”.
It is hard to not let those words sink into your subconscious when you’re part of coach Fidaah’s Fighterz Inc Gym. These words are spread in bold across the walls of his Ottery-based gym.
Jacobs even wears the literature of hope proudly on his body, too, at EFC weigh-ins.
He dreamt about fighting for a purpose, he believed in his team and abilities, and now he is on the cusp of achieving.
Standing in front of him though is a man who may not be as charismatic, but one who chooses rather to speak in the hexagon.
“I felt goosebumps on the back of my spine when Graeme (Cartmell, EFC Matchmaker) hinted at me fighting Zuluboy.
“I’ve been wanting the Zuluboy fight for a long time,” says Jacobs.
The fight is a match made in heaven, a fight fan's dream as both men initiate and like to stay active in the hex.
“I’m ecstatic, I love the fight, I love what Zuluboy brings to the cage, I love his energy, his willingness to get into a fight, and I think we are going to bring the best out of each other.
“I think this could be fight of the year, I’m always hunting the finish, so if it doesn’t end early, then it will be fight of the night Fight of the night, fight of the year - that is what I’m aiming for.
“I’m aiming to finish, I’m aiming to put on a performance, one that is going to shock the whole world.
"There must be ripple effects, Dana White’s (Ultimate Fighting Championship president) ears must be ringing,” says Jacobs, hinting at opening doors to the biggest MMA promotion in the world.
Current EFC bantamweight champion, JP Buys, has been linked with a possible move to the UFC. Nothing has been cast in stone yet. However, the show must go on, hence an interim belt slot opening up for the current top bantamweight challenger - Jacobs - and the former flyweight champion - Zulu of Joburg.